The Madison Avenue of the Mad Men era is long gone. Gone are the days of Don Draper and the simple, catchy jingles of yesteryear. Advertising is a much more complicated business these days, with savvy customers, multi-channel campaigns, and global markets. On November 9, 2010 the PBworks released collaboration software specifically geared to tackle the challenges faced by today's ad agencies.
PBworks Agency Edition, the latest product from the provider of hosted collaboration solutions for business and education, is a hosted suite of tools that aims to improve collaboration among creative professionals at advertising, PR, marketing, and design agencies. "Their work is really inherently collaborative," says Chris Yeh, VP of marketing at PBworks. Developing a campaign requires the talents of everyone from designers, to directors, to copywriters, to technologists. Yeh adds, "The agency world is undergoing changes right now that make collaboration even more important." With the rise of social media, viral marketing, and international campaigns many agencies can't meet all the needs of major clients, so cross-agency collaboration has become a reality.
The new product gives agencies a private, full-featured social environment where staff, contractors, and external clients can work together to produce content. According to PBworks complex campaigns increase both the number of touch points and people that the creative agency needs to coordinate. PBworks has been listening to these specific needs and this release reflects many of the requirements of these creative agencies. "Agencies are among our most vocal customers and they have provided us with incredibly helpful product feedback," says Jim Groff, PBworks CEO.
PBworks allows users to create themed workspaces with wiki pages, file sharing - including revision history - user profiles, chat and VoIP capabilities, the ability to track milestones, and more. Much of this basic functionality is available for free. Agency Edition adds a client dashboard for major clients with the ability to manage multiple projects. Also new to this version of the product is inline video, which allows users to see the content without worrying about file-type, or exposing it to the open web. Access and privacy can be set on a per page, file, or video basis. (Just imagine how important it might be to a company like Nike to be sure a new Super Bowl commercial doesn't leak before it airs.)
The tool also emphasizes workspace organization. As PBworks says, client relationships are complex and can include multiple divisions and hundreds of projects. Administrators can set permissions and organize workspaces with the needs of this complex environment in mind. Agency Edition also maintains a searchable knowledge base of past work and best practices. As workforces become ever more mobile and global the ability to maintain a detailed record of who worked on what and when grows ever more important. In addition, the tool aims to make a somewhat more standardized workflow by creating repeatable creative processes.
Yeh says that Agency Edition is available immediately, with a $30 per user price tag. Client users, however, are free. As Yeh points out, an agency's clients using - and being happy with - the PBworks product is great advertising for the company's other products. In essence, the advertising agencies are helping facilitate word-of-mouth.